Mamata Banerjee urges Amit Shah to build consensus on criminal-penal laws among stakeholders

29 November,2023 10:05 PM IST |  Kolkata  |  PTI

In a letter to Shah, Banerjee also claimed that overhauling the existing criminal-penal laws will have far-reaching implications on polity

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File Pic

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday requested Union Home Minister Amit Shah to build consensus on new criminal-penal laws among stakeholders, rather than rushing them.

In a letter to Shah, Banerjee also claimed that overhauling the existing criminal-penal laws will have far-reaching implications on polity.

The letter was sent on a day when the senior BJP leader attended a party rally in Kolkata and attacked the ruling Trinamool Congress on various issues.

"I do hope that keeping the sensitivity of the subject in mind, you will kindly attempt to arrive at a consensus-building amongst all stakeholders on the proposed bills, rather than rushing to pass them in their present form, which has potential implications of serious nature in future," Banerjee said.

The Centre has brought three bills seeking to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 with Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, respectively.

"I strongly believe that these are very significant legislations that form the bedrock of our penal-criminal jurisprudence. As such, the proposed overhauling of the existing criminal-penal statutes and replacing them with new statutes is bound to have far-reaching long-term implications on our polity," Banerjee said in the letter to Shah.

The suggested changes will also affect the public life of India in multiple ways, she asserted.

The West Bengal chief minister said that extreme caution and due diligence should precede any change in the existing statutes and this can only be achieved through wide-ranging consultations and discussions with all stakeholders before Parliament legislates on such issues.

"In my considered opinion, before we embark on any such exercise which permanently changes the criminal-penal landscape of the country, detailed views of all sections of stakeholders (e.g., jurists, public activists, human rights workers, general public etc) is taken in order to, create consensually accepted platform. Failure on our part' may have very adverse implications on our polity," the letter read.

A parliamentary panel, which examined the three proposed criminal laws, has noted that the legislations are much-awaited and much-needed reforms as well as imperative for smooth and transparent functioning of the legal system.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has recommended that the government retain IPC section 377 provisions related to carnal intercourse with minors and acts of bestiality in the proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS).

It also suggested that the IPC provision related to adultery should be retained in the Sanhita by making it gender-neutral "for the sake of protecting the institution of marriage".

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